What do obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and stroke have in common? All have been linked to high levels of chronic inflammation.
Under normal circumstances, short periods of inflammation can be good for the body and help the body heal, but when inflammation is constantly happening, it can lead to various chronic diseases.
So, what can you do to help your body? The anti-inflammatory diet is a great way to get started. It can help lower inflammation and protect your cells from damage. Here are some easy suggestions to start following the anti-inflammatory diet today:
WHAT TO EAT
There are specific properties in foods that help reduce inflammation. These include nutrients such as:
- Vitamins C & E - these act as antioxidants to protect the body against free radical damage. Free radicals can be found in the environment and are considered “pro-inflammatory.” Find these vitamins in foods such as berries and green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens.
- Omega-3 fats - These healthy fats help reduce inflammation and are in fish like salmon, cod, tuna and sardines and in plant sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
- Whole grains - These take longer to digest and help decrease sharp spikes in blood sugar that can lead to inflammation.
- Tea - Teas, like green tea, are high in specific antioxidants like EGCG and studies have shown that this may lower inflammation.
Recent studies have also shown that eating apples, pears, peppers and green leafy vegetables were also linked to a lower risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in current and former smokers. However, the best option is to avoid or quit smoking altogether.
WHAT TO AVOID
While there are many foods to include to help fight inflammation, there are other foods to avoid that promote inflammation. When possible, try to limit or avoid:
- processed meats like bacon, ham, lunchmeats and other meats that have been cured, smoked or salted
- fast and fried foods
- refined wheat products like white bread
- refined foods with added sugar like cookies, doughnuts and cakes
- high fat snack foods like chips